Spun Out is a project that rose up from the ashes of Chicago’s acclaimed indie punk outfit NE-HI. Core bandmates Mikey Wells, James Weir, and Alex Otake took some time to explore and refocus their creative energy. In August of 2020, they released their debut LP Touch the Sound. The result is a stark departure from their original roots. The album is a collection of sprawling soundscapes, filled psychedelic grandeur and synth pop bliss.
The band proudly declares their metamorphosis in the opener “Another House”. “I wanna touch the sound!”, they proclaim amid glorious keys and synth machinations that are so masterfully layered that you could almost stick your hands on it. “Such Are the Lonely” follows up and introduces the dance-y vibe that’s prevalent throughout the album. A mark that Spun Out isn’t only interested in rocking out, they mean to put on the groove as well. “Dark Room” has a late night dance club mood with its airy keys and lava lamp bass. A sensual and inviting trip that mixes psych with groovy funk.
But the band doesn’t stop there. Experiments such as the expansive “Antioch – Easy Detroit” shows their knack for adventurous exploration. Synth wave is mixed with acoustic folk, resulting in an epic depiction of a world that meshes old western and sci-fi. “Off the Vine” starts off unassumingly hip-hop until the flood of percussion, woodwinds and beeping synths kicks it to another level of psych euphoria. All of these experiments–although flooded with details in unbridled maximalist fashion–doesn’t seem odd or esoteric at all. The bands’ use of groovy rhythms, pleasing textures and stellar production gives it a pop-friendly vibe that anyone can easily get immersed in.
My standout picks are at the tail end of the album. “Pretender” is a deluge of percussion that can get your feet moving. A blend of tambourines, triangles and a whole lot of knick knacks topped by synth pop richness ties up this montage-friendly tune. “Cruel and Unusual” has an infectious bassline and a rich soundscape reminiscent of psych giants Tame Impala. Caroline Campbell’s vocals blend with the synths in a seamless fashion, making for a celestial backdrop that wraps the song like a warm burrito.
Touch the Sound is a story of reinvention and adventure. To think that the core of NE-HI have outdone themselves in this latest reincarnation with the risk of starting over is a testament to their genius. And with releases like these, it isn’t hard to see them surpass their previous accolades.